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José’s Juniors: U18s win a thriller

More contrasting results for Manchester United’s youth teams, as the Reserves lose convincingly.

Reserves

Arsenal 4-0 Manchester United

Manchester United’s Reserves began a double-header against London clubs when they headed down south to play Arsenal at Meadow Park. Ricky Sbragia’s side were humbled 4-0 in a disappointing showing from the reds.

The young United side were on the back-foot from the opening whistle and it took a couple of Theo Richardson saves to prevent the Gunners from going ahead in the opening stages. However, Arsenal did find the net after 19 minutes when Eddie Nketiah found Jeff Reine-Adelaide who slotted past the United keeper. The reds had little to show for themselves in the first-half, barring an effort from Josh Bohui that was comfortably saved.

Nevertheless, United started the second-half much brighter and were unfortunate not to grab an equalizer as Indy Boonen’s effort deflected just wide of the post. Arsenal grabbed their second of the evening on the hour mark when Vlad Dragomir finished from a close distance.

United held out and pushed for the equalizer, only to be denied brilliantly from Gunners shot-stopper Matt Macey. Macey made a vital double save; firstly from Ethan Hamilton, then Aidy Barlow.

Arsenal put the game beyond doubt with two quick goals on the 84th and 87th minute. Both goals came from Eddie Nketiah who capped off his impressive evening.

The Reserves will look to get their first win of the season when they host London club Tottenham Hotspur on Monday night. The game will be a six pointer for the reds if they win, as they sit a place above Spurs who remain at the bottom of the table.

U-18s

Stoke City 2-4 Manchester United

Manchester United’s U-18s find themselves sitting at the top of the table after an entertaining 4-2 win away at Stoke City. The harsh wintery conditions did not dampen the compelling football that was on display at the Clayton Wood Training Ground.

Kieran McKenna’s side looked energetic and dangerous from the first whistle and looked to gain an advantage early on as Nishan Burkart’s cheeky lofted attempt came close. United pressed well and grabbed the opener 33 minutes in. Burkart’s lovely pass found Millen Baars who slotted the ball from the angle.

The young Reds continued to dominate the game in every way and doubled their lead moments before the half. Burkart continued his good start to the game and produced a left-footed finish after Aiden Barlow provided the assist.

Stoke City’s managing team may have had stern words with their players at the break as they came out with intensity. Just six minutes into the second-half the hosts got on the scoreboard as Krisztofer Szereto converted from a corner, firing the ball high into Alex Fojticek’s goal.

The game was a much tighter affair in the second-half and McKenna decided to use all three of his subs. The tactical change proved a wise one as two of his substitutes, Largie Ramazani and Mason Greenwood, both converted within three minutes of each other. The goals came in the 85th and 88th minute and put the game from any doubt.

Stoke did respond with a consolation goal after Max Dunne conceded a penalty in injury time, though the three points were all but confirmed and McKenna’s side are two from two in 2018.

For the moment, they are first in the U-18 Premier League North Division; leapfrogging both Manchester City, who dropped points after a 2-2 draw at home to Middlesborough, and Liverpool, who have a game in-hand on the reds.

The U-18s will have two weeks before their next game, a home match-up against Derby County. The Reds will be looking for revenge after Derby County knocked them out of the FA Youth Cup earlier in the season.